Verizon's NY Voice Link drive faces heat from AARP

Verizon's initiative to offer Voice Link service to vacation home owners in New York's Catskills area as an optional replacement for traditional voice service is now under fire from the AARP. The carrier came under the scrutiny of the New York Attorney General's office last week, as the AG claimed that Verizon was violating the terms of a tariff amendment allowing it to competely replace copper lines on Fire Island, N.Y., with the wireless service.

On the west side of Fire Island, Verizon filed a request with the state Public Service Commission to completely replace its traditional landline service with Voice Link. The PSC granted an amendment to its service tariff earler this year to allow the replacement to take place on the island.

Voice Link is being rolled out to other areas in the United States, but Verizon SVP of operations Tom Maguire said that outside of Fire Island and Mantoloking, N.J., it is being offered as an option for voice-only customers, not a complete replacement.

The AARP said in a filing with the PSC that Verizon's ongoing moves could pose potential safety threats to elderly consumers and urged the PSC to reject Verizon's proposal.

AARP said that Verizon's proposal "is so broad it could lead to the telecom carrier eliminating traditional service anywhere in New York," adding that the new service is not compatible with medical devices such as Life Alert, home security, Internet access and reliability of service during power outages.

In addition, the Voice Link replacement service does not support "0" for operator, a service that older consumers depend upon during an emergency.

"AARP opposes this move and we're calling on the PSC to do the same and protect New York consumers," said Beth Finkel, state director for AARP in New York. "In many cases this move could leave New York consumers in a worse situation come the next major storm."

For more:
- see the release

Editor's Corner: Bridging the copper-to-fiber gap needs more than Verizon, AT&T interim solutions

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